program notes by composition > J > Jingle Bells

Jingle Bells

James Pierpont/arr. Jay Dawson

Although it has become one of the most popular and famous secular Christmas songs, it seems to have been intended simply as a “sleighing song.”

Composer James L. Pierpont (1822-1893) was the son of a Unitarian pastor in Boston. He was uncle to financier John Pierpont Morgan. He ran away to sea from boarding school, then ventured to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. When his business failed after a fire he moved on to Savannah, GA to become music director at his brother’s Unitarian church. He began to publish ballads, polkas and minstrel songs, married the mayor’s daughter and served with a Confederate regiment.

Last updated on July 23, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band